Left-right ideological differences in system Justification following exposure to complementary versus noncomplementary stereotype exemplars

Aaron C. Kay, Szymon Czapliński, John T. Jost

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The capacity for victim-derogating stereotypes and attributions to justify social inequality and maintain the status quo is well known among social scientists and other observers. Research conducted from the perspective of system justification theory suggests that an alternative to derogation is to justify inequality through the use of complementary stereotypes that ascribe compensating benefits and burdens to disadvantaged and advantaged groups, respectively. In two experimental studies conducted in Poland we investigated the hypothesis that preferences for these two routes to system justification would depend upon one's political orientation. That is, we predicted that the system-justifying potential of complementary versus noncomplementary stereotype exemplars would be moderated by individual differences in left-right ideology, such that left-wingers would exhibit stronger support for the societal status quo following exposure to complementary (e.g., "poor but happy," "rich but miserable") representations, whereas right-wingers would exhibit stronger support for the status quo following exposure to noncomplementary (e.g., "poor and dishonest," "rich and honest") representations. Results were supportive of these predictions. Implications for theory and practice concerning stereotyping, ideology, and system justification are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)290-298
Number of pages9
JournalEuropean Journal of Social Psychology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2009


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology

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